About Those Right-Wing Judges…

As most of you know by now, a conservative judge in Texas struck down the entire Affordable Care Act, ruling it unconstitutional.

The decision is a reminder that when judges are appointed on the basis of party loyalty rather than legal acumen, the results can hurt a lot of innocent people.

Legal scholars who have reviewed the decision believe it is badly flawed and will be overturned, but Daily Kos recently enumerated the consequences should it be upheld.

The most obvious loss would be that part of the law that forbids insurance companies from excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions. But as the author noted, if the law were really to disappear, that’s just a part of what would be lost.

As many as 17 million people could lose their coverage in a single year. The 15 million people covered under Medicaid expansion could lose their coverage. The improvements to Medicare that have saved the program billions of dollars—and reduced prescription drug costs for seniors—would be erased. Young people wouldn’t be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26. The ban on annual and lifetime caps would be gone, and medical bankruptcies would escalate. Having lady parts would again cost women more than men, and being over age 50 would cost everyone more again. Limits on out-of-pocket costs would be gone. The tax credits that 9 million people are receiving to help them pay premiums would be gone.

The post focused on the political fallout of the threatened losses. (Even Republicans concede that the issue hurts them.) But the real lessons aren’t partisan.

There are two obvious “take-aways” here.

First is the incredible amount of damage that can be done by elevating ideologues to the bench. This sort of “smash and burn” judging is a direct result of viewing the federal courts as a partisan political prize rather than a constitutional safeguard to be protected by the appointment of dispassionate, knowledgable and qualified legal scholars.

The second is equally obvious. As important as the ACA is, as much of a step forward that it represents, it falls far short of what Americans need and most other wealthy countries have long had. Not only is it vulnerable to the sort of judicial assassination we’ve just experienced, it is simply insufficient.

It would be poetic justice–not to mention actual justice–if this effort by a radical judge prompted Congress to pass Medicare for All, or at least a “public option” allowing citizens of all ages to “opt in” to the program.


  1. Let’s have legislators pass single payer legislation and take away the potshots at this still flawed ACA by judges, ideological or not. Why guess at what is constitutional and what is not when we finally decide to take on the insurance lobby and reverse Nixon’s 1973 gift of HMOs to his Kaiser buddies in California? Let’s just do it. Legislative staff have ample systems for study from which to draft such a statute, an act that would be far less complicated than the ACA in any event, cheaper, and with better delivery of healthcare services and medical outcomes. To reiterate; let’s just do it, as those in the Western World have long since done.

  2. Today’s blog brings into focus the true underlying goal of Republican political philosophy. That goal, once proclaimed to be a conservative government wedded to the Constitution, now openly presents itself as unconstitutional control over the government in order to control an economy beneficial only to a minority.
    A handful of old white male dictators have twisted and turned the rules in such a way that any restoration to a government of, by, and for the people appears to be impossible, at least in my lifetime.

  3. It’s a nice thought and it would probably pass the House, but it’s doubtful McConnell would even bring it up for a vote in the Senate. Perhaps if we call it Trumpcare, 45 would have McConnell pass it and he would, no doubt, sign it.

  4. “Why guess at what is constitutional and what is not when we finally decide to take on the insurance lobby and reverse Nixon’s 1973 gift of HMOs to his Kaiser buddies in California? ”

    Gerald states a vital point; why continue this health care argument with an administration determined to take away the current single-payer system to continue enriching all segments of the health care corporation system? Republicans want to continue decreasing government control with no thought of the victims of their actions as they support Trump’s dumbing-down of the administration and their continued control by McConnell via the Senate. The lower level judges are but stepping-stones to come before the far right control of SCOTUS…if it comes to that. Health care is an oxymoron in this current system and actual care of health is not the issue; as rape is not about sex but about power and control, so is this current health care system at all levels. FOLLOW THE MONEY…and money means power and control.

    Working for the city of Indianapolis I got my best health care at reasonable rates and co-pays through the HMO, Metro Health. And primary physicians were still actually practicing medicine rather than offering information and referrals.

  5. My argument was the the ‘raise taxes, duties etc…’ part was NOT to include a burden upon the populace, the People – This was the mandate to pay PRIVATE ENTITIES – Corporations, under penalty of fines in the form of your refund or what ever being garnished! It is in my eyes unConstitutional in that way. I was put on to ACA by the State of Minnesota in a ‘pachinko-style’ form you had to fill out online… How old are you? How much do you make? – (I am retired I don’t have an employer) see section… – How many people are in your family? – What County do you reside in – It was literally that simple and I wound up on WELFARE! Me, who has along with my wife many assets and funds available to us! I had been paying my own medical bills up to this point – and could afford it! We live in resort country own our home and 38.8 acres of land and have a money market available at any time with over 20K! And now because I am finally on Medicare and eligible for S.S. this month(!) good luck with that eh? – I find that the attempt to pay back the money to the County for the Itasca Medical Card I recieved ‘being on WELFARE” is impossible by STATE LAW. It cannot be collected until I decease! or sell my property.., Thank you president Obama. And I am a dyed in the wool Democrat as liberal as the day is long – but the system is wrong! And I should be allowed to pay it back and defend my homestead. P.S. I am not retiring officially, I can’t afford to allow my investments to go to hell.., So when they speak of the ACA being soooo necessary YES something like it is! But it needs to be FIXED at the very least – Thank you very much. — I am sincerely yours, One rather seriously PISSED OFF Citizen!

  6. i want my money back! seems if were giving away tax money to,the rich and wall street,and if the judges on the right see fit to back it. then ill just ignore investing in,anything that has to do with lawyers. simple,right? if those people hired,(really voted into?) cant keep up with the flow needed,to keep judges on the bench,to do a job, we now see how mcevil and his troops,are managing our money.. both in and out of court. someone fotgot to ask those so called politicians how they see and vote on the judge issues… we have a tort problem yes, we have allowed the corperations in this country tie us up,with thier high power back alley lawyers. we are filed to,capacity with lawyers in congress. maybe some home spun people now in congress will take some time and remind those pundits,we can rule without your input,and get some output thats needed. lets take a minute to ask why were here. a pacified America looking like speed bumps walking and driving down the road with a i phone in thier hand..who really cares,until you hire trumps lot.

  7. Please forgive my dancing finger syndrome (misspellings and typos) I really do know how to spell… I was just getting more angry with every word I was writing remembering the experience and thinking about fixing the matter some way. The ACA is a must for many people – It just should not be a forced mandate across the board and treat people in such a manner! Here in my opinion it is no better than an attempt at grabbing land. That is wrong. As bad as a reverse mortgage!

  8. JoAnn @ 8:09 am. “Working for the city of Indianapolis I got my best health care at reasonable rates and co-pays through the HMO, Metro Health.”

    This is precisely why among other reasons the current “Health Care” system must be axed in favor of Medicare For All. Lose your job and your health care is gone.

    Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act would be the very best solution. However, the backlash is building to preserve the For Profit System.

    As Michael Lighty writes:
    Now That Everybody Is for Medicare for All, Opponents Say Let’s Dilute It

    Tweaks and fixes that leave the for-profit insurers intact won’t work. Only a mass social movement can overcome the huge resource and political advantages of the medical-industrial complex.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, these Medicare Advantage plans are hugely popular in Congress. GOPers and Democrats like the lower cost/broader benefit package, and who wouldn’t, especially if it doesn’t disrupt your donors business, and you can dole out dollars to them? As long as corporate money funds elections, and the healthcare industry has seemingly endless monies to buy lobbyists and make contributions, individually or through PACs, we cannot expect the Democratic leadership to lead for what we need.

    Only a mass social movement can overcome the huge resource and political advantages of the medical-industrial complex. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/01/03/now-everybody-medicare-all-opponents-say-lets-dilute-it

  9. Rev. Manuel, my daughter-in-law is head custodian at a local Catholic church and school, the local Archdiocese only offered one health plan, Anthem-Blue Cross/Blue Shield at $450 monthly for family plan, $9,600 annual deductible. In 2013 when ACA went into effect, the Indiana health care plan required to apply through them, she must be denied by all carriers to quality to apply for ACA. Trusting the state of Indiana (major mistake) she didn’t sign up to continue her health care in October, filled out the application for the state and waited. Contacted them to check status in December, they had no record of her application so she began again, it was refiled in January. When she checked back for her status she was told they would not release any status information to applicants until the end of April, first of May 2014. March 31, 2014 was ACA application deadline. She checked after late April and later; the end of June she was informed she qualified for one plan through the state for $1, 200 monthly premium and $12,000 annual deductible. She opted NOT to accept; remember she had dropped her coverage as was required to apply through the state. She did contact ACA and asked what to do; they told her to apply for any state carrier just to get into the system. When she attempted to do this she was told they stopped accepting applications on March 31st which was the ACA deadline to apply. In 2015 when she filed her 2014 income tax form she was fined $900 for not have health care as required by law; the $900 was deducted from her IRS refund.

    She is a custodian, her husband a brick mason which is seasonal; they had at the time, 3 sons to support, the oldest in college and one is handicapped. They were responsible for all medical bills for all. The Republican state health care systems, like the local courts, are “politics as usual” with no health care considered…it is too costly.

  10. Rev Manuel: Medicaid is not welfare. Get over it. The existing Medicaid system was the best framework at the time to make affordable coverage available to a larger segment of the population. Once you were signed up (to avoid the tax penalty) no one forced you to use your card to pay for your care. You could have continued to pay for services out of pocket if you found it offensive to use the card. And no one would stop you from writing a check to the state treasury as a gift if you feel obligated to do so. (Besides, 90% of the money came from federal funds anyway, so in April you can send additional money in with your tax return there if you like).

  11. It’s not all that surprising to me that a Texas Republican judge would throw out the ACA. After all, it was crafted by a brown President and liberal women, the worst combination imaginable for most Texas Republicans, judges or not. This guy was probably a Bush appointee and finally felt comfortable executing his Texas Republican mandate.

    Just listen to the speeches and words of governor Gregg Abbott (leads the league in doubled letters) or his idiotic Lt. governor Dan Patrick. These right-wing radicals want to re-write the Constitution giving them the right to secede. Abbott has repeatedly called for a Constitutional convention that blows up the Bill of Rights and replaces it with right-wing, extremist agenda items.

    In another time and place, these Texas Republicans would be considered treasonous.

  12. I so wish we did not have to have this conversation. As an RN and an addictions counselor, I often saw people leaving treatment before they should have due to the fact insurance companies were so worried about their bottom line. You’d think the customer would be the person paying the premiums not the stockholders and the CEO’s.

    My last employer paid over 1000/month to Anthem to cover me and I had a 6000 dollar deductible for outpatient care that was in network. I lost 6000 dollars in 2015. Thank God I had the means to pay for the outpatient surgeries that I needed.

    Now I am on Medicare. Conservatives fought the passage of Medicare and of course now they call it an “entitlement”. Yeah I pay 134 dollars and 5 cents/month for Medicare B. I paid for Medicare for 45 years and am still paying for it. What do they mean it’s an “entitlement”? I’ve earned it, and I STILL pay for it.

  13. For the life of me, I cannot understand why KY voters keep electing McConnell into office. He single-handedly does immense damage to the citizens in his own state and even more so to our country.

  14. Nancy,

    Mitch McConnell has been owned and operated by the Koch brothers for decades. The poor Kentuckians who keep voting for him think they are conservative by not voting for a Democrat. In a way, McConnell is playing the same game as Trump in creating a “can-do-no-wrong” syndrome. He’s totally corrupt, but that is the voice of so-called conservatives these days. He has to go, but good luck with that as long as Trump voters think he is their guy.

  15. ACA was an improvement over what existed before it. The fatal weakness of ACA is in it’s name Affordable Care Act – “Affordable” being the operative word and the delivery system through Insurance Companies. “Affordable” immediately established a class of citizens. You could have good, better and best coverage – If and Only, If you could Afford It.

    The examples today in this blog by individuals today, prove the point the current system at all levels does not work.

    Imagine the immense savings if we had Expanded & Improved Medicare For All. No longer would the bureaucracy of the health care system today exist at it’s many levels, from the clerk in the Doctors office, hospitals or other medical facilities that have to figure out what the patient’s insurance will pay for, the deductible, the co-pay or in and out of network. You have the bureaucracy in the insurance company, add in the bureaucracy of state governments tackling Medicaid, etc.

    Think farther out the HR Departments of the various companies from small to large would no longer need to grapple with trying to find “Affordable” Insurance Coverage. State and Local Government workers would be included in Expanded & Improved Medicare For All, there would be no need for these entities to find “Affordable” Insurance Coverage.

    Ah, and lets add in the Vultures of For Profit Health Care System – The Bill Collectors that exist today – they would gone too with Expanded & Improved Medicare For All.

    We must make that one step forward to Expanded & Improved Medicare For All, not one step back, or trying to “improve” ACA or being deflected into another corporate plan to make sure the For Profit Health Care Companies have healthy profits.

    The House Democrats can pass Expanded & Improved Medicare For All. It will die in the Republican Senate but, at that point the Democrats must vigorously challenge the Republicans to show us your plan. The Republicans have no plan, it is blank sheet of paper.

  16. A couple of points. My understanding is that the judgement in Texas is not likely to be reversed because it merely puts into full play Republican legislation passed last year that was designed to do what the court ruled it could do. Kill ACA once and for all.

    This of course is the worst possible news for Republicans who only wanted to wound it to make a point. If they can’t figure out a way to reverse their legislation they seal their fate at the polls forever due to the essential benefits for so many of what they killed.

    I’d love some legal advice from the many here who know the law better than I. What’s the word going around the profession?

    Another important point. What is unaffordable about our health care non system is not the insurance which just reflects the problem instead of being the cause of it. The problem is the health care system being insured against. It is capitalism in a market of zero competition. That can’t possibly be affordable. The only solution, with emphasis on only, is socialized medicine like the rest of the world employs. We have made that solution as hard as it can possibly be by allowing the monster to grow as big as it is, almost 20% of our economy, twice as much as the countries we compete around the world with.

    Another reason that it is the only answer is that with it our system of taxes would replace the health insurance system.

    The unfortunate thing is that the transition would require a almost unprecedented effort from so many people like WWII did. Does anyone imagine now that we are up to a repeat of that?

  17. Pete @ 12:45 pm “The unfortunate thing is that the transition would require a almost unprecedented effort from so many people like WWII did. Does anyone imagine now that we are up to a repeat of that?”

    Yes, I do. It will take political leadership and dedication. I believe most of our New Democrats are committed to it. As a Boomer, I remember JFK’s pledge to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth, within a decade. We accomplished this.

    Universal Single Payer Heath Care is not rocket science. We have some of it right now with Medicare and Medicaid. We could look to Canada, France, Germany and Japan for ideas. They have Health Care that costs their economies far less than ours, covers all and has greater longevity.

    We just need to keep the For Profit Heath Care Lobbyists on the outside.

  18. The market had it’s chance to fulfill the need for all American people to have access to healthcare & pay for it! Because of market forces, and all the variables involved this effort failed. Therefore, we have a need for big-brother to step in and collect fair funding from all policy holders & step up with monopolized power and negotiate a fair market price for needed healthcare. The past argument was that people didn’t want government interfering in their healthcare, but as a result for profit business agents have diminished the value of policy holders stakes by removing profits from the pool. If premium dollars were only used for coverage of healthcare costs for policy holders, and for investment of pool dollars for expansion of benefits the cost of system would lessen. When US citizens unionize our healthcare dollars we’ll find strength to cover the cost a lot more efficiently than what we have presently!

Comments are closed.